Chet of the Chillin’ with Chet YouTube channel was not at all chill when he stepped on the brakes of his Tesla Model S Plaid that he had stripped out for track use and they did not stop the car as he was approaching a right-hand corner at 170 mph / 273 km/h. The brakes in his car were not standard Tesla fare, but rather upgraded carbon rotors that should have stopped the vehicle repeatedly on track from high speed without fade. So why didn’t they?
We know Chet had the standard rotors replaced with upgraded carbon rotors from Unplugged Performance, but there is a chance they did not change the brake fluid. The car was probably running the standard DOT 3 brake fluid that came in the car, which is really unsuitable for track driving (specifically because of the high likelihood of boiling, especially when outside temperatures are high).
In the hot conditions and under heavy load on track, the fluid may have very well boiled and thus when he stepped on the pedal, there was no pressure in the system to push the brake pads against the disks, and he was unable to keep the gutted Tesla Model S on the track, crashing into the tire barrier, putting his life in real danger.
One thing that we don’t quite understand in all of this, though, is the fact that brake fluid, when it gets really hot, it noticeably affects brake pedal feel, so Chet must have felt something as he slowed down for the previous corners...
He’s probably lucky he was in a Tesla Model S, which even without airbags still kept him safe through this very serious crash. Frankly, he may not have been able to tell the tale had he been in another car modified in the same way, especially one without an additional roll cage. This is again proof that there is some very sound structural engineering that got the Model S so much safety praise.
So before taking it to the track, Chet should definitely have installed a roll cage in his Plaid, and he should have at least worn a helmet. Nowadays, many drivers (even just weekend trackday enthusiasts) prefer not only the safety of having a full-face helmet when track driving, but also a racing-derived HANS system that offers additional neck protection, specifically in accidents like the one in the video.
After receiving many comments point out exactly the safety concerns that we mentioned, Chet wrote this lengthy reply:
1. Car had a Clean bill of health to be road worthy so, it had no residual damages from the water stunts or any other use.
2. Car was lighted so it should brake and perform exponentially better than in stock form. Lighter cars brake better.
3. Tires were all DOT legal and at proper pressures
4. Car was in "Track Mode" As quoted Direct from Tesla "With Plaid Track Mode our goals were simple: achieve the quickest lap time for a production electric vehicle at Germany’s Nürburgring, and allow individual adjustability of stability control, handling balance and regenerative braking to give drivers more authority over vehicle control at the RACETRACK." The Car is clearly being marketed and sold as a high performance car that is faster than any "Sports & Supercars" on the road. The brakes are clearly inadequate no matter what bots, trolls and other fan boys like to comment especially when they have never been in one of these cars, let alone driven one, launched on and then the fewest yet, driven on on a track in "Track Mode"
5. Brake upgrades were completed, bled and burnished according to Tesla's in car break in procedure. I was never going to race the car with the blended fluid. The Fluid used was just used to get the car back on the road and burnish the brakes. I repeat I was not racing in that video. Did I push it up to its stock limits? Yes, I did...Its Stock Limits and the stock fluid failed.
6. Use of stock fluid was my failure point, and I learned a valuable lesson that dot3 fluid has no place in a car that is to be used on the track or in "Track Mode"...So, with that said by all "he's an idiot for using Junk stock Fluid" then your saying the car has a critical flaw? By all means the car as shown in stock form can and will boil the brakes. Almost every car review of the car describes in great length the car is "under braked". I was trying to add safety and performance to my Tesla Plaid by removing and upgrading its inferior stock brakes but I missed one stock item...The Stock Brake Fluid.